There are few coins more enigmatic than Prooflike coins. Compared to normal business strikes, these gorgeous coins are exceedingly rare. While there is much hype about “first strikes” on many modern mint products, prooflike coins truly are the first strikes. These mirrored coins represent the first couple of strikes of bright, fresh dies (which are often highly polished when new). Thus, prooflikes often are incredibly detailed, with sharp, crisp features.
It only takes a few strikes to eliminate the bright mirrors. For many dies, after a hundred or less strikes the mirrors are faded to the point that the coin no longer qualifies for prooflike status - out of the tens, or even hundreds of thousands of strikes that a die produces in its life. The percentage of prooflikes is tremendously low and makes these beautiful coins very rare. While the the Morgan dollar seems to be the one exception to this rule – prooflike Morgan dollars are common and easy to find – that is more because so many Morgans have survived in high grades.. Indeed, PCGS does not designate prooflike on any other series, just the Morgan. Fortunately for me, NGC designates PL on all US series.
Using the NGC Census reports to gauge the rarity of Prooflikes, many series have tens of thousands (or more) of regular business strikes certified (over the entire span of the series), but will only have a hundred (or less) prooflikes graded (on the more common series!). They are hard to find!
And thus, always ready for a challenge, I am going to attempt to assemble a type set of prooflike coins. I think this is a really cool idea, and you can join me on this journey. My first prooflike was my Franklin, and that coin sparked this interest in me.
As always, I am going to attempt to write full descriptions, with plenty of detailed info, about each coin. Many better authors than I have written about the type set, so I will be focusing specifically on the prooflike aspects of the collection. I hope you enjoy!